November in Eastern Europe begins the winter season. Christmas markets begin to appear in major cities towards the end of the month as temperatures drop. If you travel to Eastern Europe in November, you'll want to dress warmly and plan to take in indoor attractions like museum exhibitions or shows.
Hotels and flights to most Eastern European destinations will be less expensive in November, and lines for attractions will be shorter. There's still plenty to do and see before things really start ramping up for the holidays in December.
Eastern Europe Weather in November
You may encounter snow in Eastern Europe in November, as average temperatures reach above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) in the day time but often dip below freezing by night.
- Bratislava, Slovakia: 46 F (8 C) / 35 F (2 C)
- Budapest, Hungary: 47 F (9 C) / 35 F (2 C)
- Prague, Czech Republic: 43 F (6 C) / 32 Ft (0 C)
- Warsaw, Poland: 42 F (6 C) / 32 F (0 C)
- Krakow, Poland: 37 F (3 C) / 32 F (0 C)
Make the most of the limited daylight hours as many attractions close earlier in the winter than in the summer. There are places to enjoy such as restaurants and cafes in the evening in the cities but in small towns, many places close when the sun sets.
Rain is not unheard of in November. Budapest, for example, averages 2.3 inches of rain in November while Warsaw averages 1.6 inches.
What to Pack
To prepare for cold temperatures and even freezing rain or snow, pack cold-weather gear like a heavy waterproof coat, gloves, a wool hat and scarf, and warm waterproof boots and socks. Under the warm outer layer, you'll want to wear things that you can put on and remove when warming up in a museum or, on an unexpectedly sunny and warm day. You'll also want to bring comfortable walking shoes (not white tennis shoes), again waterproof, as most Eastern European cities are fun to explore on foot.
November Events in Eastern Europe
November is a good time to take in exhibits on art and history at the museums. It's also All Saints and All Souls day and there will be opportunities to see local customs as locals warmly remember their departed relatives and decorate graves with flowers and lights.
At the end of November, look for colorful Christmas Markets to open their stalls. It's an ideal time for souvenir and Christmas shopping.
- Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day: November 17 is the anniversary of the "Velvet Revolution," which began the end of what was then the country of Czechoslovakia. Now called Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, this event is considered the most important of all Czech holidays. It's celebrated in Prague with a parade and a candle-lighting ceremony in Wenceslas Square, where wreaths and flowers are laid at the victory plaque.
- Visit the Museums: November is a good month to visit Prague's history museums, such as the City of Prague Museum, and especially the Museum of Communism, which exhibits original films, photographs, artwork, and historic documents that showcase this chapter in the Czech Republic's history.
- All Saints and Souls Days: November 1 and 2 are All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, which are celebrated across Poland. On the night between the two days, it is believed that the spirits of the deceased visit the living. All Saints' Day traditions include decorating cemeteries with thousands of candles, which Polish people use to honor deceased family and friends.
- Independence Day: November 11 is Independence Day which celebrates the date when the Second Polish Republic was restored in 1918.
- St. Andrews Day: November 29 is Andrzejki or St. Andrew's Day. There's a history of fortune-telling on St. Andrew's Eve that dates back to the 1500s. Young women would have their fortunes read to see when they would find a husband. Modern-day varieties of the St. Andrew's Day celebrations are lighthearted and social and keep up traditions like young women lining up their shoes, single file, near a doorway. Legend has it the woman whose shoes cross the threshold first is the next to be married.
- All Saints Day: Residents of Budapest pay their respects at graveyards all over the city on November 1. For visitors, the best place to go to is the cemetery on Fiumei Road which has mausoleums and gravestones dating back to the Magyars.
- St. Martin's Day Festival: The feast day of St. Martin is celebrated by tasting the new wine and eating goose. Dating back to 1171, the festival marks the end of the harvest season and most restaurants in Budapest offer a special St. Martin’s Day menu that, of course, features goose.
- Festival of New Wine and Cheese: Hosted by the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, go wine and cheese tasting at Vajdahunyad Castle.
- Christmas Markets: The Budapest Christmas market opens in late November on Vorosmarty Square. While there are other markets, this one is the oldest and most spectacular.
- Independence Day: Krakow celebrates Independence Day on November 11 with a mass at Wawel Cathedral, and a procession from Wawel to Plac Matejko, where there's a ceremonial laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
- Etiuda & Anima Film Festival: Experimental student and independent works are on display at the leading animation film festival in Poland.
- Zaduszki Jazz Festival: Also known as the All Souls Jazz Festival, this is Europe's oldest jazz festival and features Polish and international musicians.
- Festival of Polish Music: Celebrating Polish composers and musicians, this festival is held twice yearly.
- Audio Art Festival: The festival consists of installations, exhibits, and performances of art which integrate sound into the medium.
- Krakow Christmas market: Ideal for holiday and souvenir shopping, the open-air market opens toward the latter half of November.
November Travel Tips
- Small towns in Eastern Europe may shorten hours for museums and attractions or close them all together for the winter.
- You may find shops owned by Catholics closed for All Saints' Day, November 1, which is a holy day for Catholics.
- Poland's Independence Day on November 11 is considered a "Bank Holiday" so there will be closures.
- In the Czech Republic, Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.